Peaches, the “peach myth” & health properties of peach fruit
Peaches are a sweet, soft fruit of a yellow-ish, orangey or pinky colour. Peach fruit is used in jams, cakes, or even eaten with meats such as turkey. They originally come from China, and there is a famous Chinese myth called The Peaches of Immortality which we will talk more about. Nectaries are actually from the same family as peach fruit, but they are often regarded as different fruits. Peach season is generally in summer, so they tend to symbolise warmth, change and sweetness.
Georgia peaches and their association with summertime in the US
Peaches are a well-known symbol of the Old South and also of summer. Growing up in the 90s there was a famous song called Peaches by a band called The Presidents of the United States of America. I love the repetition of the line, “Movin’ to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches.” I also love this passage by a blogger from Life As Myth; you can almost taste the summery goodness. She talks in her prose about sweet Georgia peaches.
“During the ride home, over potholed back roads, with summer swelter blowing in through open car windows, we silently ate peaches. My brother and sister and I ate peaches while peach nectar ran down our chins, and through our fingers, and on to our bare sunburned legs.”
The author points out that although the US state of Georgia is known as the “peach state” that more peaches are grown in South Carolina. Peach season is a time to celebrate.
“We ate peaches down to the peach stone. Afterward we sucked on the pit to get the last bit of flesh and then licked our fingers and hands, now sticky sweet with the memory of a summer peach.” How delicious is that?
The health properties of peaches and peach fruit
When I was a little girl, I remember that my grandfather absolutely loved peaches and all ‘stone fruit’. I remember not knowing what he meant when he told me to “watch out for the stone.” Before that, I had always known the hard thing in the centre of the fruit to be called a ‘pit’.
Peaches are a rich source of antioxidant. In fact, the total measured anti-oxidant strength (also known as the ORAC value) of 100 grams of peach fruit is 1814 Trolex equivalents or (TE).
Peaches are rich in several vital minerals. These include potassium, fluoride and iron, which is needed for forming your red blood cells. The fluoride found in peaches is a component of your bones and teeth and is therefore essential to prevent cavities in your teeth. Potassium is an important component of cell fluids that assists with regulating your heart rate and blood pressure.
The Peaches of Immortality
Did you know in Chinese mythology that peaches can make you immortal? There is a notion of the “Peaches of Immortality”. The Queen Goddess (also known as Xiwangmu) held a banquet every 500 years that coincided with the Peaches of Immortality ripening. According to legend, “the peach tree put forth leaves once every thousand years and it required another three thousand years for the fruit to ripen.”
Peaches were often seen to depict a long life, alongside other symbols of longevity, such as deer or cranes. They were the fruit of certain holy deities. Therefore peaches are a significant fruit for any deities wanting to remain strong.
One story goes: the Jade Emperor and his wife ensured the deities’ everlasting existence by feasting them with the peaches of immortality. They held an extravagant banquet – the “Feast of Peaches” (蟠桃).
Peaches’ song and Peaches the musician
I also remember an artist called Peaches. It would have been about 2003 when I heard her first. My best friend played me the track, and although I can’t use profanities on this blog, the song pretty much went, “Fudge the pain away / Fudge the pain away”. It was so cool and Peaches seemed so quirky, so tough and I loved her rapping. Listen to the Peaches song here (note – lots of bad language!)
What do you love or hate about peaches? Tell me below!